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They say that red skies in the morning are a sailor’s warning. Unfortunately, that warning doesn’t apply to the Royal Navy. Every man on the ship felt a sense of unease when they woke to red skies and unnaturally calm seas. The glass water reflected the ship as it cut through the leagues. Men went about their duties onboard without saying a word. As soon as the wood deck was clean enough to mirror the sea, they stopped and finally voiced their unease to the Captain.

   “Hogwash!” the Captain shouted at the men grouped below him. “I didn’t take you men to be a bunch of pansies! If a little red sky scares you so bad then you had better just throw yourself overboard!”

   “We are no pansies, Captain,” a man with a mop said loudly, “but every sailor knows that a calm sea and red sky is bad news. We should be hesitant in our path forward.”

   “What’s your name, sailor?” the Captain asked with a glare.

   “Wakefield, Sir,” the sailor responded. His voice was strong but his body gave away his nervousness.

   “Well, Wakefield, my offer still stands,” the Captain said with a smile. “Feel free to take the mop to keep you company.” With those words, he turned heel and walked into his cabin. The rest of the crew stared at Wakefield for a moment before returning to their duties.

   In the cabin, the Captain sat in his chair with his fingers pressed to his temples. He couldn’t understand how the men could be so skittish about the sky.  He knew the saying and the tales of other captains, but they were just mindless fools. He knew how to run the seas. How to tell when the water was going to turn on him; when he should sail back to shore. These boys that they gave him were too green for his ship. They knew nothing and would run at the first sight of a small wave. Still, he had his concerns with the calm waters. Calm waters could mean everything from storms to ship-destroying waves to monsters. Even the consideration of monsters brought a scowl to the Captain’s face. Monsters weren’t real. His father was sure to make that clear to him years ago. He mistook a the flash of a silverfish for a fluorescent siren. The blue flash below the waves confused him. His father beat him within an inch of his life for believing in the tales.

His father had been the head of the Royal Navy when the Captain was a young boy. When he was out of school and his father had some off-duty time he would take him out on the sea and teach him the workings of a ship. The Captain knew that he would grow up in his father’s shadow. Always trying to impress him. Always trying to make him proud. The day his father died was the day that the Captain accepted a position with the Royal Navy. His goal was to find the ship that sunk his father’s and take his revenge. That determination caused him to fly through the ranks and as the Captain of a ship he had the ability to track down the Spanish Navy and destroy them. He was so close to his goal and his men got cold feet over still water.

   What would the Queen think if she saw that her best captain had turned tail and run back to shore just because of some calm water and a red sky? She would relieve him of his duties and laugh as he left the court. He would lose all of the respect that he had gained over the years. His father would roll in his grave to know that his only son had lost everything because of a red sky. That last thought made his decision easy. The chance of disappointing his father again, even after his death, made the Captain’s skin crawl more than the calm waters outside his windows.

   Still, the horror stories he’d heard about ships going down because of freak accidents lingered in the back of his mind. Of course, there had always been an explanation for each accident. Behemoth wave, lightning struck the mast, the Spanish. The only one they hadn’t explained was the ship that came back with obvious teeth marks along the bottom. The Captain pushed the memory of the blue flash and his father from his mind just as Haskins, his right-hand man, had burst through the door.

   “Captain!” Haskins shouted, his voice was full of fear.

   “Damnit, Haskins!” the Captain shouted. “I told you to stop that months ago! What is so urgent?”

   “You need to come to the deck Sir,” Haskins responded, still breathless, “we’ve never seen anything like it.”

   “Have I lost you too, Haskins?” the Captain asked with a raised eyebrow. “First the men are talking about the sky and now you’re…” His words trailed off at the smell of smoke wafting through the door. “What did those imbeciles do now?”

   “It’s the water, Sir,” Haskins said once he caught his breath again. “The water is on fire.”

   The Captain stood up and walked slowly toward the porthole in his cabin. The red glow could be seen for leagues, but it was hazy with smoke. He could hear the men shouting and coughing through the open door, but the Captain was too stuck on the thought of his foolishness. He should have listened to his men. He had led them straight into an attack.

   “Captain?” Haskins questioned. “We need you.”

   “Of course you do,” the Captain bit back. “Those pansies don’t know their heads from their asses when it comes to an attack.”

   “Attack, Sir?” The question in Haskins’ voice made the Captain turn around. “This isn’t an attack. There are no other ships in the area.”

   “Not an attack?” The Captains voice was angry. “Obviously you missed the ship. The only explanation for the smoke and flame is the Spanish baiting us. Gather the men and tell them to keep a lookout for any survivors.”

   “But–” Haskins’ response was cut short by a look from the Captain. “Of course, Sir, survivors.”

   At a nod, Haskins took his leave. The Captain returned his gaze to the porthole. The flames were barely visible through the orange smoke now. The yells from the men on deck grew louder as the flames drew near. There were calls for the Captain, shouts for buckets, and men screaming to turn back. All the while, the Captain stood frozen at the porthole. The flames enchanted him. They called to him as if he were a lover. He thought he saw a flash of blue in the smoke. For a moment the Captain questioned if this was really an attack. Had his past come back to haunt him? Just as he shook the thought away, the blue flashed again. This time it lit up the sea and the Captain thought he could see something lurking in the depths below. The figure caused a longing in him, it made him want to be in the water beside it.

Finally, his legs began to move, he felt himself walking toward the deck. The flames called to him louder than ever. Once his boots hit the deck all of the men looked toward him, they needed his direction, but he was entranced by the flames. He couldn’t help the men until he reached the water. They watched helplessly as the Captain made his way across the deck.  He heard their muffled calls as he placed his hands on the port-side railing. As he looked over he saw a flash of blue under the waves. The men’s yells turned to screams as the Captain’s boots disappeared over the railing. The blue flashed again as the Captain plunged into the flames. It lit up the beautiful leviathan lurking below.

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